Taking a minute to enjoy the ways things have gotten better for us as black men.
I know. You (the reader, citizens of the ‘net) have read tons of essays/op-eds on how rough it is to be Black these days. Or at least how hard it is. Especially how hard being a Black man is. Basic racism. Overt and covert racism. A lack of (good) jobs willing to hire Black men. The drug war/prison system connection and Black men. The Trayvon Martin saga.
Well, I’m going to be the lone contrarian.
Being a Black guy in 2013 is…kinda cool.
In 2013, I have a White, longtime, live-in girlfriend. In my baby boomer Dad’s prime, this could happen, but with tangible difficulties. In my grandfather’s prime, he may have been killed for having a White girlfriend (or for just talking to a Caucasian woman).
In 2013, I have a four year degree, chances to find a lucrative career, and to write this very article. In my father’s prime, he was an award winning sportswriter/editor who was good friends with Muhammad Ali. In my grandfather’s prime, he was a brilliant man relegated to a (surprisingly lucrative) job in a factory, which may have fueled a few legendary rages that were talked about for years in my family’s folklore.
In 2013, I’ve seen a bi-racial man win the United States Presidency twice in my lifetime. In my father’s prime, Jesse Jackson tried, and had no real shot at winning. In my grandfather’s prime, men of (any) color who tried to change or impact society on a political level could be and were killed.
Trust me. I know that life as a Black man in America still has its problems. Just a month ago I was pulled twice over while driving for…being Black. (Brothas who’ve been pulled over recently: Did the cops give you the “Your license plate light was out, sir” excuse, too?) It can suck at times. But, it’s soooo much better for us than it used to be. Black guys can be and are national sex symbols. Black guys can not only be stars for a professional sports team, they can manage, draft players (word to Ozzie Newsome, Jerry Reese, and Martin Mayhew) hire coaches, coach, and own these same teams. Black guys can influence popular culture. Black guys can be brilliant and share their ideas with other geniuses (word to Cornel West). Black guys can hold office in any level of American government.
It ain’t perfect out there. I’m still waiting on a few doors to open. Many of us Black guys have doorknobs we want to turn.
But shit. At least the doors aren’t locked any longer.
Photo—Tony Fischer Photography/Flickr